Kyle Rittenhouse's Legal Fight Is Being Funded By 'Free Kyle' Merchandise

The legal fight for the teenager charged with killing of two men during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin sparked by the police shooting of a Black man, is being funded by merchandise sold online.

Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, from Antioch, Illinois, faces charges in the killing of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and the attempted murder of Gaige Grosskreutz, also 26.

The shootings followed protests after Jacob Blake was shot on August 23 at close range by Kenosha police and left paralyzed. Rittenhouse had arrived at the protests armed with an AR-15 rifle but his lawyer, Mark Richards, has said that he acted in self defence.

His case has fuelled a bitter debate about race and gun control, with Black Lives Matter supporters characterizing him as a white vigilante seeking to provoke violence during a volatile situation. Gun rights supporters insist he was there to help law enforcement protect people and property.

Kyle Rittenhouse merchandise
A man wears "Free Kyle" T-shirt at a pro-Donald Trump rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, in September. Merchandise supporting Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager accused of homicide, is available online. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

On the website FreeKyleUsa.com, merchandise emblazoned with a slogan of support for Rittenhouse is available.

The words "Free Kyle" feature on a range of products including T-shirts, hoodies, stickers, mugs, iPhone covers and laptop sleeves. Some of the clothing items also carry the message "self defense is a right not a privilege."

The website outlines Rittenhouse's claims for defence, and describes how he arrived at the scene of the protest having "volunteered to help protect local businesses."

It went on to claim that he was "attacked" and so "was forced to defend his life," adding that the "God-given and Constitutional right to self-defense is now on trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin."

In a statement, the teenager's mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, thanks supporters for donations to the Fightback Foundation led by attorney Lin Wood which was involved in raising the money used to post Rittenhouse's $2 million bail.

She estimates the defense costs for trial to be a further $2 to $2.5 million and says in a message: "Asking for help has never been easy for me, but Kyle and my family really need your help."

John Pierce, who is representing Rittenhouse in civil cases said the income from the products would only go to defense costs.

"As I have said repeatedly, yes, all proceeds of FreeKyleUSA.com will be held in trust and controlled by Kyle's mom for defense fees and costs. There is no profit being made," he said, according to Madison.com.

Rittenhouse is scheduled to be arraigned on January 5 in Kenosha County Circuit Court.